Local unemployment rates declined in April, reaching their lowest levels since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020.

Orangeburg County’s unemployment rate dropped to 5 percent in April from a March rate of 5.9 percent.

That’s the lowest the county’s unemployment rate has been since February 2020 when it hit 4.9 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“It is a milestone,” Orangeburg County Development Commission Executive Director Gregg Robinson said.

“We can’t hire enough people. I have people that need people everywhere,” he said.

Robinson said companies such as Devro, Allied Air and Premium Peanut are all hiring and human resource managers across the county are looking to hire.

The county’s annual manufacturing wage has increased to about $19.37, which is the highest it has ever been, Robinson said.

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“We continue to recruit quality companies which will enhance that and create housing to come and retail opportunities,” he said. “It is about discretionary income.”

The county had the fourth-highest unemployment rate among South Carolina’s 46 counties in April.

Bamberg County’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.1 percent in April from 6.1 percent in March. It is the lowest rate the county has seen since December 2019 when it hit the same rate, according to the BLS.

It had the state’s third-highest rate in April.

“We are pleased that the unemployment rate is returning to pre-COVID levels, now at the same level as December 2019,” SouthernCarolina Alliance Vice President of Marketing Kay Maxwell said.

“We hope to see a return to even lower levels with all of the 2021 and 2022 announcements in Bamberg, Barnwell and Allendale counties, totaling 594 jobs, coming online as these announced companies start ramping up their operations,” she said.

Calhoun County’s rate dropped to 2.9 percent in April from 3.5 percent in March. This is the lowest unemployment rate seen in Calhoun County since November 2019, when it hit the same rate. The county’s unemployment rate is the second lowest seen since monthly records have been kept going back to January 1990, according to the BLS.

The only lower rate was in September 2019 when it hit 2.5 percent.

Calhoun County was tied in April for the state’s 15th highest rate with Darlington and McCormick counties.

All South Carolina counties saw their unemployment rates decline in April.

The seasonally adjusted statewide rate declined to 3.3 percent in April from 3.4 percent in March.

S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce Executive Director Dan Ellzey called April’s numbers good news.

“As individuals leave lower-paying jobs for work in manufacturing, for instance, that leaves more openings which creates competition for workers and compels the lower-paying jobs to increase wages in order to attract jobseekers,” he said.

Nationally, the unemployment rate remain unchanged at 3.6 percent.

In other nearby counties, April unemployment rates were:

• Allendale – 5.4 percent

• Barnwell – 4.6 percent

• Dorchester – 2.4 percent

• Lexington – 2.1 percent

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